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What is Antifa ?

Sorry to bring garbage from twitter over here, but this will take more than 280 characters.

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion including the neologism “Antifa”. In particular, Trump has threatened to declare Antifa an “organization of terror” following senators Cruz and Cassidy direction in a nonbinding resolution.

This is crazy. Trump, in particular, is not capable of telling plausible lies. His assertion is obviously false: because whatever Antifa is, it sure isn’t an organization. It would not be possible to list the members of Antifa as there are no conditions for membership and there is no trace of a chain of command. In contrast it is clear that the “Proud Boys”, “Patriot Prayer” are organizations.

On the other hand, there are people on Twitter claiming that I belong to Antifa, because I am opposed to fascism. That is silly too. I don’t consider myself a member of Antifa and I am more expert on myself than they are.

I would define Antifa as the set of counter demonstrators who assemble when one of the far right organizations holds a rally. So it’s a bunch of people who come to a general area with the general intention of contesting the far right organization.

This included the black block of Antifa, who are people who dress all in black often with masks and helmets, and who are clearly looking for a fight (as are the Proud Boys. They are all consenting adults, so I say let them fight provided; they don’t bother normal people, don’t bring deadly weapons, and there are police to referee making sure no one gets hurt (police services provided free because I’m generous with other people’s overtime).

But Antifa is also people who just want to stand and be counted and make sure the number of counter demonstrators dwarfs the mobilization of the far right organization. It also includes people who mock the proud boys and treat them as a joke including the dancing unicorn.

Not terrorists and not an organization. I don’t think the Proud Boys are a terrorist organization either. They are an organization and they are violent, but they are like the Jets and the Sharks not like al Qaeda or the Crips.

I think this is a tiny bit interesting, because it is clear that the talkingpoints memo has gone out directing Republican hacks and conservatives (but I repeat myself) to denounce Antifa. This shows three things. First and like the talking points about white supremacist terror; Republcans need to “what-about” when asked to discuss the violent far right (they doth protest too much). Second it shows how the MSM always fall for it; no matter how many times the GOP demonstrates bad faith, their latest BS is treated as if it were worthy of consideration. Finally, it shows how progressives always fall for it.

For example, I just wrote a long post attempting to refute obvious nonsense.

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Read Seth Cotlar

@sethcotlar has a very excellent thread asking never Trump conservatives what really changed with Trump. He says he is willing to be convinced that Trump isn’t just letting the mask drop and saying the quiet parts out loud, but that they haven’t made a case that Conservativism was ever worth anything.

Zack Beauchamp fair used it over at Vox.com

It is devastating and brief (Twitter is evil but it does prevent prolixity — might be the only medium for concise historians not named Tacitus).

I fair use squared the following which I consider to be a very important insight

@SethCotlar

30. This points to another thread in the history of conservatism that dates all the way back to Bill Buckley…conservatism has often defined itself largely AGAINST a phantom “left” that doesn’t really exist as they think it does.

@SethCotlar

31. Not only do conservatives tend to see that “left” as monolithic, they also see it as posing an existential threat to “western civilization” or “our way of life.”

@SethCotlar
32. Without the slippery slope argument, conservatism loses much of its rhetorical punch. Want Medicare? You’re secretly a commie. Support gay right? You hate the nuclear family! Support the rights of transgender people? There’s no biological truth anymore!

@SethCotlar

33. This is not just a rhetorical device conservative politicians deployed to gin up votes. It’s also been an essential piece of conservative intellectual thought as well. “Standing athwart history yelling stop,” and such.

Yes yes yes. Partly, this is an example of an error of thought which is more common than any other error of thought or any valid method of thought, the false dichotomy. Setting up and knocking down straw men is irresistably tempting. But I think it is important that the seem to actually believe this.

American Conservatism largely defined itself as anti-Communism. I don’t think they evern managed to get over the end of the USSR. One of the central tenets was that of the “Clear and Present Danger” of Communist world conquest. The collapse of the USSR demonstrated that they were totally utterly wrong. But Reagan and Bush were Presidents at the time, so they declared that everything which showed they were wrong, showed they were right.

To an extraordinary extent, Conservatives reject compromise by arguing that compromise is impossible, that any concessions are steps out onto the slippery slope to serfism.

A bit more fairusing below.

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Grinding Old Axes II : This Time It’s Personal

So there wasn’t the groundswell of interest in my old axes in comments, so all continued grinding after the jump. Just to recall I stopped after 3 on a list which continued

4) John Kerry is much too stubborn. He won’t admit it when he is wrong. He should be more willing flip flop
5) Al Gore is a bearer of inconvenient truths who deserves much of the credit (or blame) for the existence of the internet
6) Bill Clinton is an ultra wonk who is relatively honest.
7) Walter Mondale was sharp as a knife and had charisma
8) Jimmy Carter is a visionary.
9) George McGovern was the only US politician willing to try to prevent horrible Communist crimes.

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Grinding Old Axes

This post is self therapy and probably not worth your time. Outline before the Jump
1) Hillary Clinton is very honest. Too honest
2) Mitt Romney is extremely dishonest. He lies often and without shame. Also he made his money conning ex friends.
3) John McCain was a major flip-flopper
4) John Kerry is much too stubborn. He won’t admit it when he is wrong. He should be more willing flip flop
5) Al Gore is a bearer of inconvenient truths who deserves much of the credit (or blame) for the existence of the internet
6) Bill Clinton is an ultra wonk who is relatively honest.
7) Walter Mondale was sharp as a knife and had charisma
8) Jimmy Carter is a visionary.
9) George McGovern was the only US politician willing to try to prevent horrible Communist crimes.

OK so I skipped Obama who was treated fairly by the mainstream media. Oh yeah, Dukakis, uh I got nothing.

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Another Nail in the Coffin of Democracy and Journalism

Commom Dreams, Jake Johnson, August 6th, GateHouse Media announced it will purchase Gannett (USA Today, Detroit Free Press, Indianapolis Star, and other major American newspapers). GateHouse Media publishes 144 daily newspapers, 684 community publications, and over 569 local-market websites in 38 states.

If approved the result will be a $1.4 billion news conglomerate. Common Cause stated a “combined GateHouse-Gannett entity would own one in every six newspapers in the nation and control over 100 local news operations.” While the media giants touted their commitment to “journalistic excellence” in a press release, the merger announcement comes with plans for $300 million in annual budget cuts.

A study by the University of North Carolina confirmed the U.S. has lost almost 1,800 local newspapers since 2004. Newsroom employment fell by a quarter from 2008 to 2018 (Pew Research) and layoffs have continued this year.

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The optics are as bad as they look

(Dan here…lifted from Robert’s Stochastic Thoughts)

by Robert Waldmann

The optics are as bad as they look

 Dean “The Optics aren’t as bad as they look” Baquet just confirmed that he actually doesn’t do his job any more. He doesn’t decide what is on the front page of the New York Times. He doesn’t explain what he does (except force reporters to tone down their story on the Trump campaigns connections to Russia until it falsely asserted that the FBI had found no clear links *after* the FBI had obtained 2 FISA warrants based on probable cause to believe two Trump campaign employees (one of them campaign chairman) were foreign agents).Look, if he isn’t willing to edit, maybe his job should be eliminated as he eliminated the public editor, breaking a solemn promise to readers and destroying the paper’s credibility which can only be restored if he is fired.

Also he presents a false dichotomy (an error of thought more common than any other error of thought or any valid method of thought). He asserts (without any evidence or logic) that the only choice of for the Times to continue to do what it has been doing or to act as the opposition to Trump.

He doesn’t even consider the possiblity that it could act like a serious newspaper and not quote unreliable sources without fact checking (even if the demonstrably unreliable source happens to be President). He assumes that the most recent claims must be reported without noting the proof that they are lies. Basically his position is that the facts don’t matter, or maybe that they must not be reported, because they have a liberal bias.

I think it is very important that Baquet be fired immediately.

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Rick Wilson, His Former Party and 1984

I really enjoy Rick Wilson’s thoughts on the Republican Party, his former party until 3 years ago. I don’t know which part of his latest Washington Post Op-ed I like most but here goes:

As the saying goes, you had one job, Republicans. Now? Your job really isn’t representing your districts. It’s backfilling and wallpapering over your president’s latest excesses, outrages, racial arson and verbal Twitter dysentery. Every day is a new crisis, and every day demands their complete attention. When he eventually tweets that he was the first person to arrive at Ground Zero or that he invented the question mark that one summer in Yangon, count on his congressional footmen and the Fox News Ministry of Truth to find a new way to spin it.

For Republicans, it’s an endless summer of crying themselves to sleep at Newspeak immersion camp.

My bolding of references to 1984. Ouch that’s going to leave a mark.

However, like many never Trump Conservatives, Wilson insists that conservative doublethink, duckspeaking and blackwhite are new things. He also has the trait typical of those who recently emerged from the Conservabubble of assuming that universal values are conservative values and that leftists are mirror images of conservatives rejecting what the principles they claim. So I can’t resist fisking his column which I will fair use after the jump.

Before the jump I will just note that it is not clear how much of the following description of Trumpian lunacy is covered by “when it comes to articulating anything close to traditional GOP beliefs, he’s as likely to sound like the lifelong Democrat he was until Republicans tell him what to think.” I don’t think he was ever a sincere Democrat anymore than I think he is now a sincere Republican. He is and was a Trumpian.

But more importantly, Wilson refuses to recognise just how far the GOP had already strayed from its declared principles or any standards of reason, logic or decency long before Donald Trump descended the elevator escalator. He describes Trumps typically Republican actions as betrayals of a tradition that has long since been abandoned (I date the betrayal November 1876 but your mileage may differ).

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Degeneration of Bipartisan Blog Sites: Econbrowser

Degeneration of Bipartisan Blog Sites: Econbrowser

This is probably just a whiny complaint of well-known and long running issues.  Indeed for a long time most blog sites (not to mention most twitterspheres and Instogram Idiotspheres) have been mono-partisan in those who participate in their discussions/debates. This has been true for a long time for most sites in the Econoblogosphere, including this site, which clearly tilts “left,” even though we have always been open to comments from a wide variety of views.

I have in mind here a particular blog site that I respect and have been spending a lot of time and attention at for some time. It is Econobrowser, initially set up by Jim Hamilton, now at UCSD, and a leading time-series econometrician, long viewed as a nonpartisan technocrat. Some years ago he brought in Menizie  Chinn of UW-Madison as a co-blogger, with Menzie becoming the main poster recently, with Jim H only rarely now posting or commenting on anything.

This site has been for some time now one of the few among higher level economics sites where people from different partisan positions have been regularly posting, reasonably intelligently.  It has been for some time tilting “left,” as Mr. Apolitical Jim H rarely posts, with Menzie Chinn dominating the site.  He served for both both Clinton and G.W. Bush as staffer on the CEA, giving him a cred cover of bipartisanship, although since Trump came in he has clearly been negative on Trump.

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Repeat Message to the Mainstream Media: Stop Serving as Trump’s Propaganda Machine

Repeat Message to the Mainstream Media: Stop Serving as Trump’s Propaganda Machine

I don’t usually like to repeat myself in these posts, but when it comes to the media getting suckered by Trump and serving as bots in his reelection campaign, I have to get shrill: no more headlines reporting on Trump’s tweets, taunts and tantrums!  Just stop!  Now!

The New York Times is one of the worst, and they would do well to read their own reportage on the matter.  Today’s edition carries an article entitled Trump Aims Words at Working Class, but Policies at Its Bosses, and the body says exactly that—which should come as no surprise to anyone who has been remotely paying attention the past two and a half years.  There is virtually no correspondence between what Trump says and what he does.  (And the exceptions, like border repression and the Muslim travel ban, are in policy realms in which he [unfortunately] enjoys majority support.)

Trumpian blather and obscenity are not an accident.  He has been doing this stuff for decades.  He gets to make his background and true agenda invisible while he slums as a dude with 1950s white working class politics, at the same time reaping the benefit of being perceived as unscripted, honest-for-better-or-worse and the opposite of every politician who has ever tried to put one past you.  But every word he utters is the opposite of what it claims to be: Trump’s themes are carefully scripted, cavalierly dishonest and political to the core.  It is all about misdirection, and like a devious martial arts move, it turns his opposition’s disdain to his own use.

The solution is simple.  The media should just stop megaphoning Trump’s mouth unless he is announcing a policy or personnel action he has actually taken.  Make Trump’s true agenda visible by stuffing everything else into the asides or back pages or just deleting it altogether.

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Rep Liu got Mueller to say it

https://twitter.com/pbump/status/1154042744702029824?s=20

Also the MSM noticed. Bump is a Washington Post reporter.

The point is that this implies that Mueller thinks Trump was guilty and that he would have a reasonable chance of convincing a jury that there is proof beyond reasonable doubt of Trump’s guilt.

The other answer was “that was a sufficient reason to not indict Trump which doesn’t imply that it was a necessary condition. As written in the report I don’t think it is fair to discuss the question of

update: in the afternoon, Mueller took it back

When he appeared before the Intelligence Committee in the afternoon, Mueller clarified this exchange, noting that it was not solely because of the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that he did not charge Trump with a crime. Instead, he said, “we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”

This is inconsistent with his exchange with Liu. The key word is “the” in “the reason”. Liu asserted that there was only one reason and Mueller agreed. But in any case, the bottom line is that he took it back.

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